Delta CEO Ed Bastian Says Passengers Should Ask Permission to Recline Seat

Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian is wading into the heated ongoing seat reclining debate, revealing that while he never reclines his seat, he thinks it's "proper" to ask the person behind you before you make that decision.

"The proper thing to do is, if you’re going to recline into somebody, you ask if it’s OK first," Bastian said on CNBC’s Squawk Box. "I never recline, because I don’t think it’s something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me."

The long-running debate about whether people flying economy should be able to recline their seats was reignited this week after an American Airlines passenger who had reclined her seat shared a video to Twitter of the man punching the back of her seat, eventually calling for the FBI to charge the man.

"Here’s a great jackhole! He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times — HARD, at which point I began videoing him, and he resigned to this behavior,” Wendi Williams tweeted Saturday.

"When you recline you’re invading the space of the other passenger and ruining their experience," one Twitter user responded to the video. "You’ve had a shocker here Wendy."

Another disagreed, writing, "It's ridiculous for [people] to say you shouldn't recline your seat. It's an option for a reason. You're fully within your right. If he needs more room, he should have gotten a seat that accommodated that. Why should you be inconvenienced? You paid for your seat."

"You are both in the wrong," a third reasoned. "But reclining your seat when you are flying coach is literally the most selfish inconsiderate thing a person can do. It literally ruins the travel experience of the person sitting behind you. You are just as bad if not worse then him."


The argument about reclining comes amid a discussion about the reduced leg room on planes over the last several years, although Bastian said of Delta, "We haven’t reduced our pitch on our aircraft in years. We’re going the other way."

Photo credit: Dustin Downing/Getty Images for Delta Air Lines